There are a lot of great things about “Before He Cheats” by Carrie Underwood (written by Josh Kear and Chris Tompkins).
But today I want to focus on one. The writers never call the cheating boyfriend a name. They never call him a jerk, a loser, etc. Instead, they use the lyrics to paint a picture of this guy that leaves the listener thinking, “Man, what a loser!”
If Carrie just called the guy a jerk, I might believe her. Or I might just think she’s a bitter, psycho ex-girlfriend. But the pictures are the proof. The writers prove to us that this guy is a jerk- we’ve seen him in action (up behind the girl showing her how to shoot a combo, buying her drinks, and dabbing on $3 worth of that bathroom Polo, etc). Therefore, when Carrie takes it out on his truck, you at least agree that he was due some payback.
The lesson for me is: If you want the listener to think someone is a jerk, a hero, a great lover, whatever- don’t just tell the listener so. Use pictures as proof.
Strong imagery like we find in “Before He Cheats” can really make a song stand out. If you want to build YOUR imagery skill so that YOUR songs stand out, I have a great opportunity for you. In Songwriting Pro’s upcoming live online workshop, I’ll reveal several techniques that I and other pro songwriters use to create killer imagery.
Anything you’d like to add or ask? Leave a comment! Also, are there any topics you’d like to see addressed in a future MvR post? Thanks!